Servant leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world. While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970.
A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
The Ten Principles of Servant Leadership by Robert Greenleaf:
- Listening: A servant leader puts the emphasis upon listening effectively to others.
- Empathy: A servant leader needs to understand others' feelings and perspectives.
- Healing: A servant leader helps foster each person's emotional and spiritual health and wholeness.
- Awareness: A servant leader understands his or her own values and feelings, strengths and weaknesses.
- Persuasion: A servant leader influences others through their persuasiveness.
- Conceptualization: A servant leader needs to integrate present realities and future possibilities.
- Foresight: A servant leader needs to have a well-developed sense of intuition about how the past, present, and future are connected.
- Stewardship: A servant leader is a steward who holds an organization's resources in trust for the greater good.
- Commitment to the growth of people: A servant leader is responsible for serving the need of others.
- Building community: A servant leader is to help create a sense of community among people.